On the way up!
by Jesse S. Lyons (Delta Alpha – Western Carolina ’98)
Last year, 2012, started and ended as a great year for PGA professional, Brandt Snedeker (Chi – Vanderbilt ’00).
Coming off hip surgery, he kicked the year off with a win at the Farmers Insurance Open in January at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California. Snedeker wrapped up his season by capturing a win in September at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia. But it was his highlevel, consistently steady play throughout the entire year, that helped him heap up the most points in the FedEx Cup chase. At the end of the year, Brandt Snedeker was the FedEx Cup champion, gaining a pretty cool purse of $10 million to boot. How much did he spend on himself? Not a dime.
Around that time he was selected as a captain’s pick by Davis Love III for his rookie appearance with USA’s Ryder Cup team. Although they didn’t win, in Brandt’s words, “It was really special.”
Last year wasn’t all roses. Brandt cracked a rib at the U.S. Open. He was at his father’s side for a liver transplant. And then there’s the story of Snedeker visiting his coach Todd Anderson’s son in the hospital before his final Tour Championship round. Tucker Anderson had been critically injured in a car accident and he and Brandt had become close. Tucker has pulled through but requires much more rehabilitation.
Toward the end of the year, Brandt and his wife Mandy experienced the joyful birth of their second child Austin (a future KA, no doubt) who joins big sister Lily. He and Mandy even started a foundation to help youth in need. Yep, you guessed it, with all his FedEx Cup earnings.
All in all, 2012 was a pretty good year for the humble, fast-talking, fast-playing Snedeker. But 2013 is looking even better.
He remains one of the hottest golfers on the planet. He’s tearing up the links, finishing tournaments right below, next to, and higher than hall of famers. At the time of publishing, Snedeker has tied for third, came in second twice and then won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. His past 10 rounds posted sub-70 scores. And his sights are set on the big ones. The Masters. The Opens. The PGA. The Majors. And the President’s Cup team. Yes, indeed, onward and upward. On Wednesday, February 12, 2013, the 32-year old 2007 PGA Rookie of the Year took time out of a well-deserved vacation with his family to chat with The Journal.
How did you get started in golf?
I was 7 or 8 years old, playing with my dad and brother. It was our family thing every week to get together and play each other, so it just kind of grew from there. We’d have weekend matches. Me and my brother both liked it, so we started playing more and more. My dad took it up later on in life and so we all had fun learning kind of at the same time. That’s how my game came together.
Did you have a decision to make about going pro in golf or going to college at Vanderbilt?
No, I wasn’t good enough to go pro anytime time soon. [laughter] I was 18 years old, very wet behind the ears, and needless to say I had a long way to go.
What was the hardest thing to overcome when transitioning from college to the Tour?
Thursday through Sunday is the easiest part of our week. Its what you do Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday; how you deal with traveling, how you deal with staying in hotels, how you prepare yourself to make Thursday through Sunday as easy as possible. There is a lot more that goes on than meets the eye; a lot more stress that people realize.
Who are your mentors on the PGA Tour?
Davis Love III has been a great friend of mine. He’s helped me a lot in my career, and obviously playing on his Ryder Cup team last year was really special for me. He is someone I turn to when I’ve got questions. He’s been through the full game of emotions out there and he’s a great guy to bounce ideas off.
How was it having him select you as a Captain’s pick to the Ryder Cup team?
It was really special. I knew with Davis that he wouldn’t do anything he didn’t think was right for the team and to have him think that much of me to put me on the team was really special and something I’ll always cherish.
What are some of your favorite courses?
Obviously I love Augusta National, the history,the Masters Tournament,everything that place means to the game of golf. It’s just a special place. Its funny,you know, the golf courses I’ve always really liked are the one’s I’ve played well on [laughter again]. Torrey Pines in San Diego, Harbor Town down in Hilton Head.Another course I don’t get to play very often is Pinehurst #2, it’s a favorite of mine, it’s a really great place, and I love being there.
Have you met any KAs while on the tour?
Sure have, I meet a lot of KAs that are fans on the road that know I’m a KA. I get tested and called out quite a little bit on the road. It is always really fun to hear from KAs in the crowd!
Do you still keep in touch with your chapter brothers from Chi Chapter at Vanderbilt?I do yeah, I sure do. John Thompson (Chi – Vanderbilt’00) is a real good friend of mine. We still have an email list and keep up with everybody through that and I still feel like my close friends are the KAs from Vanderbilt.
What are some of your values today that help you approach golf and keep you not only rooted, but help you become successful?
First and foremost, you got to have a good outlook on life.That’s being very humble,that’s realizing how fortunate I am to do what I do. Also,it’s realizing that golf is a very tough game. Everyone’s going to see you on the way up and on the way down. I realize that the interactions I have with people, whether its twenty seconds or twenty minutes, they are going to remember me by those. I need to make sure that I lead myself in the right way, that I do have a chance to thank people, and that I send a positive message out there. You know that’s tough sometimes when you’re trying to meet everybody and there are a lot of people, but I try. I’m just very fortunate to do what I do and I want people to realize I do know how lucky I am.
Tell us about your commitment to giving back.
Yes, my wife Mandy and I just started a foundation called the Brandt and Mandy Snedeker Foundation. Our mission includes helping underprivileged kids that need a break, and a chance in life. These are causes that have been near to my wife’s heart and mine for a longtime. We just started the foundation right after the FedEx Cup last year so we’re in the beginning stages. But we’re going to use this as a platform to help as many kids in Nashville as possible and try to do what we can do to help our community.
What advice would you give to any young golfer wanting to make it big?
It’s a very hard thing to do. There’s no short cut to the tour, there’s no short cut to anywhere you want to go in life. You have to put the work in, day in and day out. Having a positive attitude is huge. I never got down on myself, I always stayed positive, I always felt like I was going to make it. And, I knew that if I wanted to make it I had to go the extra mile, put in the extra hard work. You have to make sure it’s a passion of yours. There are people trying to get on the tour and golf just isn’t their passion. They’re doing it because it’s something they know how to do. Well, if you want to be great at what you do you have to have a passion for it. They do not give a second place for hard work. Hard work will get you where you want to go.
You had a fantastic 2012. What are your goals for 2013?
Majors are what everything revolves around in the game of golf, and they are really big for me. Winning my first major is my biggest goal for this year. I’ve got four good chances I think to accomplish that. I played on my first Ryder Cup team last year and I really enjoyed that. The President’s Cup is in Ohio this year at Muirfield Village. That will be a really special place to compete on home soil and I’m looking forward to trying to make that team.
Is there anything you would you like to tell every KA out there?
I think that at the end of the day, I want people to know, KAs and everyone else that I realize I’m very fortunate to do what I do for a living. I try to do everything I can to make sure people realize that on the golf course and off the golf course. I’m one of the few people in this world that get to live out their dream everyday and I’m thankful for that. I’ve put a lot of hard work and extra hours into being where I am and I’m enjoying every minute of it.
Now, remember to tune in to watch Brother Snedeker compete on those self described easiest four days of the week. I think its safe to say we’re still getting to see him “on the way up.”
Photo credit: Stan Badz/PGA Tour